For as long as I can remember I have been accused of being a dreamer. To be the girl with her head in the clouds always waiting for that big break, for that illusive dream-world to unfold before her and become a gentle reality.
To some it's a naive quality that represents youthful enthusiasm and limited life experience - the time before life breaks us and molds us to fit in with the reality that is life in general. But for others, dreams are a way of life, the path that is ever-so-close yet so far away, the path that we know in our hearts is the one for us to take.
The business of being an adult dreamer is a tricky one. Reality with all its constrictions never ceases to attack our dreams with harsh knocks on the front door pushing the illusive dream further and further away. We tell ourselves that these are the times that make us and break us as dreamers, the time when we find ourselves sitting in a four-wall room painted in plain white instead of the colourful world we create by dreaming big.
These are hard times. We question ourselves and our dreams. We start to ask realistic questions that cut a dent in the already fragile surface of the fading dream. Worst of all is when the dreams seem so unattainable that we almost give up on them and tell ourselves to grow up and get a real job.
Then come the happy times. The days and weeks, even months and years, when dreams come true and we find ourselves on top of the world. At last, the dreamland conquered reality. These are the happiest of times. We bathe in the glory that is our dream and celebrate each and every moment given to us in the dreamland.
The dreamer in me has always been alive and well. When times are hard as they've been of late, it's been the heartbeat that pumps enough elixir to my veins to keep me going. Sometimes, when I am frustrated, I feel it slipping away ever so slowly and start to wonder what sort of reality is there for me to live in, a reality where I am content and comfortable.
But as all dreamers know, dreams are no different than the thick fog that gathers over the mountain peaks; once the dream takes hold of you, there is no looking back. My dreams hunt me down until they've break me once more and remind me of who I am... what I want.. what I need. They are the oxygen that keeps me afloat when all else is lost.
And thus, once more a reality of contentment and comfort is not enough. The desire for more takes charge once more and the compass is set on the ever-so-inviting pink clouds high over my head.
I've been up to the pink clouds. I've danced from joy up on silky clouds and embraced my dreams. Of late, as my mind ponders the future more grievously than it has done in a long time, my mind travels back to the days on the pink cloud.
The warm autumn day I walked from Green Park to Buckingham Palace, and onwards on my walk without a destination. I had very little money but oh so much joy in my heart. All I needed was a tall latte from Starbucks and a bottle of water. And a small camera to capture the moment.
Then I think of my first days in Paris as a local. The time my days were spent roaming the narrow streets of the the Marais, across the Seine to the left bank to Saint-Michel, and eventually to Shakespeare and Company where I'd read a chapter from a pre-war print edition about an unknown fellow dreamer who too loved Paris.
The summers I spent on the "Rock" on the Greek island of Ios with a group of beautiful people, both on the inside and outside. Sailing to remote beaches... swimming in the crystal clear Aegean Sea... living without ambition to rise to fame or glory and simply living in the very moment... it's a beautiful life.
Today, I returned to another passion of mine, a passion I never thought I had so much passion for but as it turns out, I do: The academic world of English Literature.
It's a world so full of invisible notions and ideas, and stories that parallel a world long gone but that is forever captured in the written word. Not a moment lost.
To write is an act of documentation. An act of seizing a moment in a moment, of capturing a thought, a heartbeat of a story otherwise untold. The meaning of a single word and the descriptive power of a beautifully written sentence. To me, it is where the essence of life is given meaning.
So, today I sat down to write. To write because it gives my life a meaning. Writing means as much to me whether I get paid to do it or not. It's the essence of me.
A few months ago, when I had a lot of work on my plate and barely enough time to sleep and eat, someone asked me why I didn't skip writing for the sole purpose of writing, why I wrote without accepting remuneration. I told that someone, in those very same words, that writing is what I do because I can't live without my words, because words give meaning to my world and because without it, I am not me.
Being a writer means I observe, listen and interpret. I read the world with my senses and paint a picture of it with my words. It's the essence of my life.
Writing is an endless quest for life. Beautiful lyrics written for beautiful melodies conceive ideas for fictional characters yet unborn, and visual art, be it a photograph, a canvas exploding with life or beautiful choreography brought to life on stage, life's exuberance is my ecstasy.
The academics gave my words a deeper meaning and the tools to read the world and see it through an array of perspectives. I put on different binoculars and see a simple event from many different directions. I put all of me into the words I write, I think about all the different ways my readers will read the sentences I write and how they'll perceive my message.
In my dark days, when I feel the very thing that gives my life purpose is trapped under a heavy load, seemingly eternally invisible from inquisitive eyes and a curious mind, I feel ever-so-strongly the need to fight back, to refuse a sudden death for the asymmetry of words still unborn.
Traveling the world gave me the courage to escape the confinements of reality, to live a dream and to breathe in joy and breathe out gratitude for all the joy in my heart.
I've been so lucky. I've been able to travel and grow as a person while widening my writerly horizon. Without the support of my family, I would never have the cherished experiences now turned into memories so dear to my heart. Without the support of doting parents and two sisters who understood how important it is to my being to dream big and explore the world on my own, I may have become a victim of reality.
Instead, my life has been a trail of enigmatic encounters with beautiful people, kind people, gentle people, loving people, and people with big beautiful dreams.
My Brazilian host-sister Monique is passionate about dancing and her love for dancing shines through every time she puts on her dancing shoes. My friend Aneta who moves to Canada next week to start a new life is unafraid to take on new challenges all on her own. Last but not least, my sisters B and R.
For B, the dream of doing an MBA has been but a dream for several years. But not anymore. The mother of three, (an unlikely) grandmother of one, and super-successful professional, she embarks upon a journey that is both frightening and exciting. I couldn't be prouder. Then it's R, the youngest one who moved to Italy to finish graduate school in style. She loves her new life and I am so happy for her.
It takes courage to dream and guts to turn a dream into reality.
It's a risk because when a dream becomes a reality it eventually takes on a pattern we may take for granted.
Sometimes, it's the dream we dreamt that becomes the suffocating reality. We go from a blissful state of exuberance to a pragmatic reality. But for the dreamer, it's just a momentary pause.
It is the nature of the dream ideology to keep dreams alive, and thus, when one dream becomes a sour reality, another is born. For as long as the wheel of dreams continues to spin new dreams, one after another, life is in fact a journey of dreams.
Thus, in these darker days while pragmatism wears me down with reality, all I have is my dreams.
The dream of traveling to every corner of the world - to sail down the Amazon, hike in Borneo, explore remote beaches on the coast of Thailand and travel from Istanbul to Tehran on a train (just among few) - and to write - to write the story that is lingering in my creative space and finish it, to be the professional travel writer painting the world with my words to curious travelers, and to write a piece that inspires.
Through my dreams, I rekindle the passion in my heart that is my desire for life as I see it.